Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Put Up Your Dukes

Or put them down.

Or just cut them off.

Once again, Dukes was a Jim Bowden experiment that never really exploded in everyone's face. He just sat there simmering like a dormant volcano. His numbers had regressed, as had his patience. There was a slight injury history. If Rizzo felt there was any chance Dukes was not cemented in as the right fielder, he should have tried to move him. Instead, Dukes reported late to camp, started slow, and voila, Justin Maxwell will likely be the answer to a trivia question.

Releasing Dukes is not a WRONG decision. Clearly he has shortcomings that prohibit him from becoming a great baseball player. This is not Matt Kemp that the Nats are giving up on. The Nats clearly feel that he was closer to Austin Kearns than Matt Kemp, so he wasn't worth the investment. The WRONG decision was to not invest in a corner outfielder (whether by free agency or trading for a prospect) to fill the void if this was a possibility.

Sure, Maxwell showed a pulse in September, Morse has a decent bat, and Bernadina is a blank slate. None of those guys, even at their best, is as good as average Elijah Dukes. It is possible that Dukes' value diminished when he failed as a center fielder, but there are several teams in the market for a corner outfielder that would have given up a C+/B prospect for him. And that is way better than the headline "Dukes Cut."

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